Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)
Watching a movie again is different from rereading a book. First of all, I like rewatching movies. Well, some movies. There are certain movies I’m embarrassed to admit that I paid good money to sit through once, but Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade is not one of them. I saw it twice at the Rolling Acres Cinema when it came out and will always watch if I come across it while randomly flipping through channels. Now that Hulu Plus offers movies as well as TV shows, I have access to the whole Indiana Jones series, but the only one I’ve actually rewatched is The Last Crusade.
On seeing it again, I realized how there’s no wasted moment or useless information. Everything the camera shows you is a clue that pays off later. I especially love the way the prologue featuring Young Indiana Jones in Utah gives us hints of the Adult Indiana Jones, providing backstory for loyal viewers of the series who may have wondered about the source of the scar, the inspiration for the wardrobe, or the situation that prompted “Snakes. Why did it have to be snakes?” *
This installment of the Indiana Jones saga is famous for featuring Sean Connery as Professor Henry Jones; lore has it that only James Bond could be the father of Indiana Jones. The father-son interactions reminded me of how hard it is to look cool in front of your parental units. I mean, there’s Indy, doing his action-adventure thing, literally putting a spoke in the Nazis’ wheels, and there’s his dad in the sidecar giving him a disapproving glare and calling him Junior. Not making it any easier is saying goodbye to your latest hookup while discovering that she was also your dad’s latest hookup.** (During the rewatch, my first reaction was “Ew!” But then I thought about it some more and now I’m more than a little distracted by the idea of hooking up with Harrison Ford and Sean Connery. Talk amongst yourselves for a moment. Here, I’ll give you a topic: “Ralph Fiennes is spelled neither rafe nor fines. Discuss.”)
Ahem. What else caught my attention? Oh yes, the bit where Indy needles his dad about forgetting the clues that will get them through the booby traps guarding the grail. Henry replies, “I wrote them down in my diary, so that I wouldn’t have to remember them,” which made me think of the Field Notes motto: “I’m not writing it down to remember it later, I’m writing it down to remember it now.” I have a ton of Field Notes notebooks because I always think I’m going to compile important notes and ideas that I’ll want to refer to later, but then I realize that my handwriting and sketches are never going to look anywhere near as photogenic as Henry’s notebook about the Holy Grail and I give up. Besides, keeping a diary still strikes me as such a teenage girl thing to do, and I have a hard time reconciling that concept with a bearded and tweedy Connery.
Another thing that’s hard to reconcile with Connery — bearded, tweedy, or otherwise — is playing the Damsel in Distress role, but that’s essentially his part here: getting rescued by the hero, bantering and bickering with the hero, causing a few problems for the hero (setting the fire at the castle! shooting out the rudder!), finding a few solutions for the hero (revealing the spiral staircase! spooking the birds with the umbrella!), and providing the emotional stakes as the hero tackles the film’s final quest. And, of course, he shows the hero he really loves him by finally calling him “Indiana.” I’ll show the hero I really love him by disavowing any knowledge of Temples of Doom or Crystal Skull.
*Speaking of Raiders of the Lost Ark: I also enjoyed The Last Crusade’s demonstration of the advances in face melting technology achieved by the special effects department at Industrial Light and Magic. Having a desiccating corpse claw at you while its hair grows like in a Play-Doh barbershop is much creepier.
** Fun fact: Sean Connery ad-libbed the line “She talks in her sleep.” (Well, according to Wikipedia, anyway.)
(I’ve known Amy since the year that The Last Crusade debuted in theaters. A former game show contestant, she is usually the smartest person in the room. Though easily found at any number of weekly pub trivia events based throughout NE Ohio, all personal information has been redacted to shield her identity. Much like Indy, I suspect this is because she is never more than one step ahead of villainous treasure hunters.)